Just before Christmas, Kilkenny LEADER Partnership (KLP) was formally notified that it would be allocated 80 positions for placement on the TÚS programme. The Department of Social Protection will operate TÚS nationally and is availing of the services of local LEADER Partnerships such as KLP to take 5,000 people who are unemployed for over 12 months in non-profit companies and community organisations. Participants will be placed in non-profit organisation for a twelve month period- retaining their primary benefits with a small additional weekly stipend of €20. KLP is excited about this new initiative. It will commence operation in Kilkenny shortly but as yet only a few details of the programme’s functions have emerged, but it is clear it will provide significant challenges as well as opportunities for the company.
KLP proposes to use the new programme as a cornerstone of its Employability Strategy and will be taking a ‘developmental approach’ to all placements. What does that mean? Well – community and voluntary groups will be expected to demonstrate what skills they see the participant been equipped with at the end of their placement. Of course it will be a two-way street and the non-profit company can certainly expect to benefit from the placement. There is already a steady stream of communities making contact as news of TÚS becomes widespread.
It will be interesting to see how the first tranche of placements work from both sides. Given the profile of unemployed people over the last two years we can expect a very diverse group of individuals with equally varied skills. KLP expects that we are likely to have a mix of people with construction backgrounds, administration, and customer service skills being prominent – particularly construction! Funnily enough these are often just the types of people that communities want to drive or maintain their community projects.
It seems that unemployed people will not be able to self-present- or ask to go on TÚS. The Department will select participants from the register on a randomised basis. KLP is starting to get its head around how it itself may pro-actively create developmental opportunities and believes that its expanded Housing Aid scheme and its Trail Kilkenny Walks development and maintenance programme will provide good opportunities for construction placements. The experience that KLP has of operating the Rural Social Scheme and the Community Services Programme has informed KLP’s plans. There are also some imaginative proposals within the wider company for people with other skillsets.
But what if you’re not 12 months unemployed –are you excluded? Well you’re not eligible for TÚS but KLP’s new proposals for its Local Community Development Programme (LCDP) strategy. There already exist a number of other placement initiatives such as the IBEC graduate programme or FÁS’s two programmes- graduate and non-graduate. KLP intend to look to those on these initiatives and to develop others to offer opportunities to as many of the unemployed as possible. That’s the central principle of the Employability Strategy. You’ll be hearing more of it in the coming months.